Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Saturday backed his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee’s call for a meeting of chief ministers of opposition-ruled states.
Stalin said on Twitter that Banerjee had called him to express “concern and anguish on the Constitutional overstepping and brazen misuse of power by the governors of non-BJP ruled states”.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister said that he assured her of the commitment of his party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, to uphold state autonomy. “Convention of Opposition CMs will soon happen out of Delhi,” he added.
Banerjee also said on Monday that she has spoken with Stalin and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in this regard. “Together we are trying to protect the federal structure,” she said, according to PTI. “All regional parties must come to an understanding.”
The West Bengal chief minister said that the country’s federal structure has been “bulldozed” and the Constitution is being demolished. “We all need to come together to protect it,” she said.
However, Banerjee said that the Congress “can go its own way” and claimed that no regional party shares cordial relations with it.
Earlier on Saturday, Stalin had criticised West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar for having prorogued, or deferred, the Assembly session, alleging that it went against established norms and conventions.
Dhankhar, however, said that the Assembly session was prorogued at the request of the West Bengal government and the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s statement was not in conformity with facts.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh had also clarified on Saturday that Dhankhar prorogued the session on the state Cabinet’s recommendation.
However, Dhankhar and Banerjee have frequently criticised each other after the former was appointed as the West Bengal governor in 2019. On January 31, Banerjee said that she had blocked Dhankhar on Twitter because of his posts against her government.
The West Bengal chief minister had alleged that the governor had threatened the state’s chief secretary and the director-general of police on several occasions.
“Pegasus is being done from the Raj Bhavan,” she had claimed, referring to the spyware developed by Israeli company NSO Group.
On January 28, a report in The New York Times said that India purchased the software as part of a $2 billion weapons package in 2017. The Indian government has, however, denied having carried out any illegal surveillance.
Meanwhile, Dhankhar had said on January 31 that West Bengal had become a “gas chamber for democracy” and that he could not see the “trampling of human rights”.
In recent days, Stalin and Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi have also been at loggerheads on some matters. The Tamil Nadu chief minister had said that the reasons cited by the governor to block a Bill to bypass the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for admissions to medical colleges were not correct.
While returning the Bill to the Tamil Nadu Assembly for reconsideration on February 1, Ravi had described the Justice AK Rajan committee report as merely reflecting the panel’s “jaundiced view”.
In September, findings of the state government-appointed committee had showed that the number of state education board students who got admission to medical courses had declined significantly since NEET was introduced in 2017.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, along with some other parties in Tamil Nadu, have decided to send the Bill to the governor again and have demanded that it should be forwarded to President Ram Nath Kovind.
Tamil Nadu has been opposing the examination on the grounds that a common entrance test would harm the prospects of state board students.
In September, three NEET aspirants had died by suicide in the state, leading to massive outrage.